Shower, Bartholomew (DNB00)
|←Shovell, Clowdisley||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 52
SHOWER, Sir BARTHOLOMEW (1658–1701), recorder of London, born in Northgate Street, Exeter, on 14 Dec. 1658, was third son of William Shower, merchant, of Exeter, by his wife Dorcas, daughter of John Anthony. John Shower [q. v.] was his brother. Educated in his native city, Bartholomew came to London early in 1675, entered the Middle Temple on 9 Sept. 1676, was called to the bar on 21 May 1680, and rapidly became distinguished as a pleader. In 1683 he attained some prominence as an uncompromising adherent of the court party by publishing ‘An Antidote against Poison: composed of some remarks upon the Paper printed by the direction of the Lady Russell, and mentioned to have been delivered by the Lord Russell to the Sheriffs at the Place of Execution,’ which he followed up in the same year by ‘The Magistracy and Government of England Vindicated’ against the partisans of Lord Russell. In 1684 he moved from the Temple into Chancery Lane, and next year was appointed deputy recorder under Sir John Holt [q. v.] Shower was knighted by James II at Whitehall on 12 May 1687, and was made recorder of London in place of Sir J. Tate on 6 Feb. 1688. He was made bencher of his inn on 25 May in this year, and reader three years later. He signalised himself by his speech for the crown against the seven bishops in June 1688, and but for the reaction that almost immediately followed he might have disputed James's favour with Jeffreys. As it was, however, he was replaced as recorder by Sir George Treby [q. v.] in November 1688. After the revolution he became a rancorous opponent of the court, and a political follower upon most issues of Sir Edward Seymour [q. v.] In 1695 he disputed the validity of a commitment by secretary of state for high treason in the case of the king v. Thomas Kendall and Richard Roe. In 1696 he was counsel for the defence of Ambrose Rookwood and Peter Cook, both charged with high treason; of Cook and Snatt, the nonjuring parsons who gave absolution on the scaffold to Sir William Parkyns [q. v.]; and in November he defended Sir John Fenwick, strongly deprecating the proceedings by bill of attainder, on the ground that if he were acquitted his client would still be liable to proceedings under the common law. In 1698 he was retained on behalf of the ‘Old’ East India Company, and successfully screened his political leader, Seymour, from the imputation of bribery. In June 1699 he successfully defended Charles Duncombe against a charge of falsely endorsing exchequer bills, and four months later he was elected treasurer of the Middle Temple. Next month (November 1699) he was counsel for Sir Edward Seymour against Captain Kirke, who had killed the baronet's heir, Conway Seymour, in a duel. In 1701 he was ready with advice as to the best means of proceeding against the leading Kentish petitioners. He was taken ill suddenly at the Temple Church on 2 Dec. 1701, and two days later he died of pleurisy at his house in Temple Lane. His remains were taken to Pinner Hill, where he had recently acquired a seat, and buried in the chancel of Pinner church, where there is a slab to Shower's memory (Lysons, Environs, ii. 587); but, says Le Neve, ‘he had no right to the arms he was buried with, nor any other, as I guess’ (Pedigrees of the Knights, p. 411). Shower states that he was married in Bread Street in 1682 by Samuel Johnson, the author of ‘Julian the Apostate,’ but his wife's name is not recorded. With advancing years Shower's jacobitism grew more robust. He wrote a bitter squib upon the opportunism of William Sherlock, entitled ‘The Master of the Temple as bad a Lawyer as the Dean of St. Paul's is a Divine’ (1696, 4to), and he corresponded in sympathetic terms with George Hickes [q. v.] the nonjuror. He was stigmatised in the fourth canto of Garth's ‘Dispensary’ as
Vagellius, one reputed long
For strength of lungs and pliancy of tongue.
The Reports printed as Shower's are: 1. ‘Cases in Parliament resolved and adjudged upon Petitions and Writs of Error’ (1694–8), 1698, fol.; 3rd edit. 1740, fol. (see Bridgman, Legal Bibliogr. p. 303). 2. ‘Reports of Cases in King's Bench from 30 Car. II to 6 William III’ (1678–95), London, 1708 and 1720, 2 vols. fol.; 2nd edit. 1794, 2 vols. 8vo, London. Hardwicke, Holt, and Abinger have characterised these reports as of no authority. They were in fact printed from ‘a foul copy’ which fell into the printer's hands. Shower's abridged and corrected manuscript, containing ‘many good cases touching the customs of London, never printed,’ fell into the hands of Edward Umfreville (who annotated it), and is now in the British Museum (Lansdowne MS. 1105). At the end of the volume are some curious autobiographical notes in Shower's own hand, constituting the main authority for the facts of his life.[Luttrell's Brief Hist. Narration, vols. v. and vi.; Boyer's William III, p. 70; Howell's State Trials, vols. ix. xii. xiii.; Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 586–7; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 151, ii. 414; Macaulay's Hist. of England, ii. 692; Wallace's Reporters, 1855, p. 243; Marvin's Legal Bibliography, p. 646; Brooke's Bibl. Leg. p. 219; Campbell's Lord Chancellors, iv. 136; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit.; Notes from the librarian of the Middle Temple.]